I almost titled this “the theology of controversy” but I was scared if I used the word “theology” nobody would read it. I want to expand on my impulsive act of a couple of days ago (read the post immediately previous if you don’t know what I mean), looking at what I think about this subject in the light of the Word.
A very dear friend posted this comment to the previous post: “Had a similar exchange recently on the Internet. My response was similar to yours except I said, “I feel badly about the way people who have represented themselves to be Christian have treated gays…” My suspicion is that Westboro Baptist and others have used the banner of Christianity as a means to get their hateful points of view made known.”
I agree with every word – however, when I spoke to that group of young people and apologized for how some Christians have treated gays and said that I believe the Bible but I don’t believe the Bible teaches hate, I wasn’t just talking about the extremist groups. I was talking about the church in general and how we have been comfortable singling out this group of people for their sin, condemning them, and casting them out.
I personally have heard people make remarks like “I work with someone who is gay, but he’s very nice. Is it wrong for me to be friends with him?” and “My son is gay. I can’t decide what to do about family gatherings. Do I let him come or do I tell him he’s not welcome until he gives up this lifestyle?
We talk a good game about all sin being equal in God’s eyes, and the problem between God and man not being individual acts of sin but the fact of Sin, the sin nature – but we sure rank sins when it comes to how we deal with them within the body. Nobody has ever said to me “I work with somebody who is really into money. He’s definitely covetous, but a nice guy. Is it ok to be friends with him?” or “My son is 26 years old and dates frequently. I assume he has sex. Should I tell him he’s not welcome in my home until he is celibate?”
I don’t know many churches where gay people could walk in and feel welcome – but a lot of churches are full of divorced and remarried people. I’m one of them. What was it Jesus said about that? It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:30-32
I don’t hear that preached very often. We have churches full of adulterers, myself being one. Praise God – I am under his grace!! But we seem to have certain sins we want to “enforce” the law against a bit more strongly than others.
So let’s talk about the law. Our community group has been studying Romans and it has been extremely enlightening (at least to me) about the law. Do you know why God gave the law? Most people would say “to tell us how to live right” or something along those lines. But see what the Bible says: Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. Romans 3:20
The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God’s kindness was even more powerful. Sin ruled by means of death. But God’s kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life. Romans 5:20-21
The law did not come so that we would have rules to live by, a way to please God or a path to Heaven. The law came to show us how sinful we are, how impossible it is to please God through our own ability, and that we cannot make our own way to heaven. The law came for one reason only – to lead us to the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross, to which we can add nothing. We can obey God out of love, but we can not make ourselves better in his sight by anything we do. If we have put our faith in his Son, in his sight we are the righteousness of Jesus. Anyone who has not is still lost, no matter if they are a drug addict, gay, a murderer or a worker for a charity helping orphans. Lost people are lost, and it is sheer silliness to try to make sinners stop sinning without the power of the Holy Spirit. They need Jesus, not correction. They need rebirth, not redirection.
As a mature (well, I hope anyway) Christian of several decades, I struggle with many things. Critical words come out of my mouth before I think. I am often selfish, and more lazy than I would like. I am very glad that no one has developed the ability to read minds yet because I don’t want anyone looking at my thoughts! As Paul says in Romans 7, I know what I want to do, but I don’t do it, and I know what I don’t want to do but I do it anyway.
So, if I and countless other Spirit-filled, Bible-believing, church-taught Christians struggle with our own personal sins, why do we think we can just say to sinners “You shouldn’t do that – God says so” and get anything but hostility? For that matter, until and unless God and the Bible have a place in someone’s life that matters on a meaningful level, using the Bible as an authority to tell them what is wrong in their life is useless. It would be like my daughter telling me what I should change about my life based on some rap song. It has nothing to do with me. And the Bible has nothing to do with many people whom it is quoted to and waved at.
We need to look inward, and work on obeying the commandment that Jesus gave us – above all else, to love one another. That didn’t just mean other Christians. It didn’t just mean people we liked, and it didn’t just mean people we were comfortable with. But as we reach out with genuine love for the person we can get past the action and connect, build relationships, earn the right to speak to their hearts – and maybe make an eternal difference.
Stepping down from my soapbox now…